Grab raises $30m for GrabWheels unit from Taiwanese automaker

FILE PHOTO: The helmet of a Grab bike rider is seen during rush hour traffic in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 18, 2016. REUTERS/Iqro Rinaldi

Singapore-headquartered ride-hailing major Grab has secured $30 million in funding for its new mobility arm, GrabWheels, from Taiwan-based automaker KYMCO.

Grab issued a statement confirming the funding on Thursday hours after we first reported the development. We had in November also reported the decacorn’s ongoing talks to secure funding for the unit.

In its statement, Grab said the funding for GrabWheels is part of an ongoing Series A round.

As part of the partnership, the ride-hailer and KYMCO will explore developing and deploying two-wheel electric vehicles (EVs), specifically KYMCO’s Ionex electric bikes, as well as the Ionex EV charging platforms in Southeast Asian cities.

They also plan to conduct a research study on how best to develop a shared two-wheel EV service, build electric charging infrastructure, and meet Southeast Asia’s varied licensing requirements.

GrabWheels, which was originally the e-scooter arm of the company, has repositioned itself to focus on new mobility options, including two-wheel electric vehicles. A directive from Singapore’s Land Transport Authority in November 2019 prohibited e-scooters on all footpaths, leading to GrabWheels suspending its service in the city-state.

“We are proud to partner with KYMCO to invest in and accelerate the EV adoption and infrastructure in Southeast Asia. This joint effort also underscores our commitment to work with strategic partners and local governments to bring about a safer and more environmentally sustainable transport network,” said Chris Yeo, Head of Grab Ventures and New Platform Business.

Founded in 1964, KYMCO started out as a supplier for Honda, which later became a significant shareholder. The Taiwanese firm introduced products under its own brand in 1992 and in 2003, it bought back Honda’s stake in the firm.

The firm’s EV portfolio includes RevoNEX electric scooter, i-One Ionex smart scooters and SuperNEX electric superbikes.

Grab claims to own one of the largest EV fleets in Southeast Asia. It launched its first EV pilot project in Singapore in early 2019 when it rolled out 200 Hyundai KONA models.

In the city-state, Grab has also partnered with Singapore’s energy utilities provider, SP Group, to use its public EV charging network.

In December, the company announced a roadmap for rolling out electric vehicles in Indonesia in early 2020. It plans to collaborate with automakers and distributors, including Hyundai, Astra Honda Motor and Gesits, to introduce four- and two-wheeler electric vehicles for pilots in the Greater Jakarta area.

Grab is also working with SoftBank to promote smart cities and electric vehicles in Indonesia.

The startup has previously raised funding from other automakers, including $1 billion from Toyota. The ride-hailing company had raised $250 million from Hyundai and Kia in 2018 that involved a partnership to pilot EV programmes across Southeast Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.